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A Fold in the Map charts two very different voyages: a tracing of the dislocations of leaving one’s native country, and a searching exploration of grief at a father’s final painful journey.
In the first part of the collection, Plenty – “before the fold” – the poems deal with family, and longing for home from a new country, with all the ambiguity and doubleness this perspective entails. In the book’s second half, Meet My Father, the poems recount events more life-changing than merely moving abroad – a father’s illness and death, the loss of some of the plenty of the earlier poems.
“A fold in the map” is a nod to Jan Morris’s Trieste And The Meaning Of Nowhere, where the traveller’s state of in-between-ness is explored. Robert Frost said “a poem begins as a lump in the throat, a home-sickness, a love-sickness” and in these poems of love and longing for home, family, and other loved ones, Isobel Dixon draws on a rich store of natural imagery, illuminating the ordinary at times with a touch of wry humour. Her vivid poems will speak memorably to travellers, lovers and all those who mourn.
Praise for Weather Eye:
‘Isobel Dixon portrays people and places, and a sense of displacement, in sensuous yet meticulous detail. In these poems she celebrates creatures and landscapes in contrasting climates and cultures, her sharp perceptions invested with yearning and humour – and an aura of wonder.’ – Stewart Conn
‘Poems that bring a sensual physicality together with lively, startling imagery.’ – Mail and Guardian, South Africa.
‘...a contemporary, accessible lyricism. ... characterised by sensuous natural imagery ... Dixon’s gift is in the presentation of such a palpable, earthy presence and its accordant pathos of memory or displacement.’ – James Tink, PN Review
‘Maybe there was something in the water in Umtata, but Isobel Dixon was born with the gift of lyricism as natural speech. A measure of her accomplishment is that all the sense impressions of Africa, even if the reader has never actually been there, live naturally in her poetry as if it were the only landscape. The vivid surroundings of her childhood got into her rhythms and her phrases. A second, perhaps sadder story, springs from that. She is looking back to something lost, even as she continues to engage in the history of the land where she was born. She has the language for her political situation, too, and for a third story, about her father’s death, she has the language of deep grief – a longing, beyond mere nostalgia, for both a childhood and a homeland. If the last vestiges of the old Empire have produced a new kind of exile, she is the way it speaks.’ —Clive James
‘Fine, warm, sensuous poems which deal boldly with both the light and dark sides of family life and with the many manifestations and resonances of grief.’ —Kate Clanchy
‘Isobel Dixon’s gift is to bring the same exactitude to the rendering of physical detail as she does to the awesome pit-face of human grief. The intimate details of her personal history are reported with congeniality and with admirable control. The huge gravitational presence of her father draws through every page and her vision of his death leaves her living half in a rainy Britain, half in her dusty homeland, praying for rain.’ —Tim Liardet
‘... a contemporary, accessible lyricism. ... characterised by sensuous natural imagery ... Dixon’s gift is in the presentation of such a palpable, earthy presence and its accordant pathos of memory or displacement.’ —James Tink, PN Review
‘Isobel Dixon portrays people and places, and a sense of displacement, in sensuous yet meticulous detail. In these poems she celebrates creatures and landscapes in contrasting climates and cultures, her sharp perceptions invested with yearning and humour – and an aura of wonder.’ —Stewart Conn
‘Poems that bring a sensual physicality together with lively, startling imagery.’ —Mail and Guardian, South Africa
‘More understated but no less powerful than both of these collections [Sophie Hannah Pessimism for Beginners, Frances Leviston Public Dream] is Isobel Dixon's A Fold in the Map (Salt, £12.99), which includes a poignant retelling of her father's illness and decline. Dixon's own graceful style provides soothing contrast to the bewilderment and indignity her father suffers.’ —Natalie Whittle, FT Weekend Magazine
‘Isobel Dixon is fully in command of the poetic tools at her disposal. In her hands form and content intertwine naturally, never allowing the reader's attention to wane. Intelligent and sensuous, Dixon's poetry has the wonderful quality of being able to hold the essence of a variety of moods, places and people, which many readers, whether poetry lovers or not, will find engrossing.’ —Karina Magdalena Szczrek, Sunday Independent (South Africa)